(North Georgia Advocate) Despite the pouring rain, smiles, laughter and passionate challenges highlighted the ribbon cutting and dedication of the Mi Familia Center in Canton on Sunday, Jan. 24. As the crowd of about 40 stood two and three deep around the walls in the small meeting room, the Rev. Dr. Francisco Cañas, coordinator of the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries, encouraged the crowd to “proclaim God with a Bible in one hand, and the love of God in the other.”
Located at 2745 Marietta Highway, the Center will offer English as a Second Language courses, GED classes, after school assistance for children struggling with academics, computer literacy classes, immigration clinics, tax returns assistance, communities of faith, health fairs, and labor of love activities.
After Cañas cut the ceremonial ribbon, along with center coordinator the Rev. Dr. Aquiles Ernesto Martinez, Ph.D., a religion professor at Reinhardt College, and the Rev. Dr. Ed Tomlinson, the superintendent of the United Methodist Church’s Atlanta-Roswell District, the Center’s logo was unveiled. Selected in a contest at Reinhardt College, the logo was created by sophomore art major Nancy Tuttle of Covington, Ga. “I just started thinking of what community centers do and the symbols associated with that. I used hands to show people giving and receiving, and the family at the bottom, to show the community working together,” Tuttle said.
Martinez said the logo’s power was in its simplicity and symbolism. He asked the crowd to share what they saw in the logo: “A tree.” “Growth.” “Love.” “Hands together.” “Working together.” “Coming together.” “The joy that will come from here.” “Reciprocity – it’s giving and it’s receiving.” He hopes the Center will represent all those things in the services it offers.
Martinez also encouraged spreading the word about the center’s needs. “We are looking for a local church to serve as the mother church; we also need volunteers. We need your prayers, and we need visibility,” he said. Martinez has already begun recruiting volunteers at Reinhardt, and several students attended the dedication.
In Tomlinson’s comments, he called the center, “A place of our dreams in the Atlanta-Roswell District.” He thanked Martinez for realizing a dream and working with others to allow it to grow.
Cañas said God would use the Center to change lives. “God is alive through the people, and God makes miracles through the people. So when the United Methodist Church made the decision to do some investment in this area, it’s with the conviction that this is going to be a place where… God is going to be present, and God is going to be serving.”
He said the center will transform all who visit. “It’s going to be a miracle in each of you. You are going to learn about yourself. How powerful you are. How capable you are to help and serve others… The second miracle is going to be that the community is going to be transformed by your service, your actions, by your compassion…”
A ministry endorsed by the Atlanta Roswell District of the North Georgia Conference and the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries of the United Methodist Church, Martinez said the Mi Familia Center seeks to offer Christian hospitality to all of God’s children by providing essential services so they will feel welcome, experience God’s love, and can be contributing members of their community.
For information about volunteering or current center needs, please contact the Rev. Aquiles Ernesto Martinez, cell 404-375-8957. office 770 720 5973.
This article appreared in the February 5, 2010 North Georgia Advocate. To subscribe or renew, visit www.ngumc.org/advocate.